Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Cannavaro, Kaka, Messi favorites for Player of the Year

AP , ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

Brazil's Kaka smiles during a national team training session in Teresopolis, Brazil, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Brazil playmaker Kaka and Argentina forward Lionel Messi are among the leading contenders to challenge Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro for this year's FIFA World Player of the Year award.

Cannavaro, who last year became the first defender to earn the honor, will also face competition from two-time winner Ronaldinho of Brazil and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, who are among 30 players nominated for the award yesterday.

On the women's side, Brazil striker Marta can win the title for a second year in a row, but is competing against Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer -- who didn't concede a single goal at this year's Women's World Cup -- and US striker Abby Wambach.

Coaches and captains of men's and women's national teams around the world will be eligible to vote, and soccer's world governing body will announce the three male and three female players with the most votes in early December. The winners will be chosen from those finalists and presented with the awards at the Zurich Opera House on Dec. 17.

The men's list is dominated by players who play in Europe's four biggest leagues -- England, Italy, Spain and Germany. Brazil's Juninho, who plays for French champion Lyon, is the only exception.

Chelsea stars Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko were both left off the list after struggling this year at the Premier League club, while Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juventus' David Trezeguet -- who lead the Serie A in scoring this season -- were also omitted.

Last year, Cannavaro, who plays for Real Madrid, beat Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho, while Marta was named best women's player with US forward Kristine Lilly second.

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